Doll House By Henrik Ibsen

Many of our choices and the things one does in a lifetime can be directly based
on what society perceives to be proper. The choices one makes based on
societyís views, may sometimes have no logic to support them. These choices
are sometimes chosen because society would look down upon the person making the"wrong" decision. The values and morals upheld by a society may directly
affect how one acts. This is held true for the character Nora in Henrik

Ibsenís play "A Doll House". Nora is the 19th century middle class wife of

Torvald Helmer. She is a woman who is devoted to her husband and family. Nora
minds her husband Torvald as a child would a father, and Torvald in return
treats her as a child, or as his "doll". At the end of the play, Nora makes
an epiphany realizing the way she acts and how Torvald really feels towards her.

The causes for Noraís behavior can be attributed to her upbringing,
societyís views on what a womanís role should be, and also Torvald, who also
helps Nora in her epiphany. The primary cause that affected Noraís behavior as
an adult, was Noraís upbringing. Noraís father treated her as his"doll-child" (1186, "A Doll House"; all page references refer to the
class text The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature 5th ed.) Her father
told Nora all of his opinions, and in time these opinions became Noraís
opinions (1186). Torvald explains to Nora "Exactly the way your father was"
(1144). Nora has in essence become her father by not having a mind of her own.

If her opinions differed, Nora would hide them because her father would not have
cared for them (1186). Nora was sheltered from the world. Her father shaped

Noraís ideas and gave her his knowledge of how the world works The treatment
of Noraís father may have been a result from how society viewed women in the

19th century, which is the second cause for Noraís behavior. Women were viewed
as property of their husbands or fathers. This is a reason why the treatment of

Nora as a "doll" by her father was not an issue. Nora was property of her
father, and expected to mind him, as a proper young lady should. Women didnít
have any rights that were equal to a manís. According to Ibsen, "...in
practical life the woman is judged by manís law, as though she were not a
woman but a man" (1191, "Notes for A Doll House"). Men thought that since
a woman does not think or act like a man, then they are a lower being. Ibsen
states, "A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is
an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a judicial
system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view" (1191,

"Notes for A Doll House"). A man did not treat womenís views as being of
any worth. A woman in the 19th century is "obligated to her husband-to follow
my (a manís) wishes in everything and to strictly obey my orders" (1194,

"A Nineteenth-Century Husbandís Letter to His Wife"). Also as a woman, one
was subservient to men for financial reasons. A woman making her way on her on
was a hard road to take. There were very few jobs and society viewed these women
as delinquent and crazy. With this background of the gender roles in the 19th
century, one can use it to understand Nora and why she acts the way she does in

Ibsenís "A Doll House". It was unheard of for a woman not to mind her
husband or father. Nora is loyal to her husband and family the way any 19th
century wife would be. Noraís husband Torvald is another cause for Noraís
behavior. Nora has been dependent on men most of her life. The dependency was
taken from her father and put upon her husband Torvald once the two were
married. Noraís relationship with Torvald can be characterized as a form of"enslavement (or) master-slave, male-female, (and) sexual
objectification..."" (1196, "A Marxist Approach to A Doll House"). Nora
gets into a relationship where she is treated the same way her father treated
her, as a "doll". She takes on the standard role of a 19th century woman.

Nora doesnít think for herself. She minds Torvald as if he was her father.

Torvald doesnít want her to eat any sweets, like macaroons. He expresses this
when he says to Nora,